Scientists awarded patent for tularemia vaccine

Two biologists from the University of Texas - San Antonio were recently awarded a patent on their process for creating a tularemia vaccine.

Karl Klose, director of the UTSA South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Bernard Arulanandam, associate dean of research for scientific innovation at the UTSA College of Scientists, were notified this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that their application had been accepted, according to the San Antonio Business Journal.

Tularemia, which is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, is a potential weapon of bioterrorism. It is highly infective, easy to aerosolize and, while not highly fatal, is capable of quickly incapacitating its victims. It is normally found in rabbit populations and has only rarely been recorded in humans.

The newly patented process creates what is known as a live attenuated vaccine consisting of the bacteria F. tularensis. The vaccine works by stimulating an immune response when it is given, but without causing tularemia. This is accomplished by removing a gene in the bacteria that allows it to flourish and replicate inside infected cells.

“We are hopeful that the science behind this new patent for Francisella will spur further insight into the creation of an effective vaccine against this pathogen,” Arulanandam told the San Antonio Business Journal.